Friday, April 18, 2014

Shopping For Nursing Homes


I just spent the day shopping for a nursing home for my Dad. In many ways, it was the most heart wrenching experience of my life. I was with my two sisters who seemed so remarkably composed and professional when all I wanted to do was throw something. But I managed to mask my emotions well enough to get through an extraordinarily difficult job that simply had to be done. To make a long story short, we ended up picking the very first place we visited, a remarkably unanimous decision from a family famous for our contentiousness. We felt the power of the hundreds of prayers which were being lifted on our behalf and by the end of the day felt as good about our decision as one can feel about this sort of thing. So, I don’t want anyone to get the wrong impression about what follows.

Throughout my entire life I have dealt with the most unpleasant events with dark humor, some would say gallows humor. They tell me that it is a complex and rather bizarre coping mechanism, but whatever, all I know is, it gets me through some rough days. Driving between nursing homes today I started compiling an assortment of David Letterman top ten lists like, things you don’t want to see in a nursing home, or the top ten indications that you’ve spent too much time shopping for nursing homes…that sort of thing. Sometime the choice is between bursting into uncontrollable sobbing or start cracking jokes. I’d rather crack jokes:

Things You DO NOT Want to see in a Nursing Home:

  1. A social activity in the multi-purpose room called “bedpan bingo.”  
  2. A banner hanging in the nurse’s station congratulating them on going 37 consecutive days without a patient wandering off the property.
  3. You don’t want to stumble upon a rowdy group of PT people playing beer pong with specimen cups.
  4. When touring a Catholic home, you don’t want to see red “last rights hot line” phones at every bedside.

Misc. Tips:

  1. Just because the Jewish homes smell like delicatessens when you first walk in doesn’t mean that there is no urine smell on the premises.
  2. Before agreeing to take the “dime tour” ask how much the place costs first. It speeds up the process.
  3. Even though you’ve done your research online and already know how many “stars” Medicare has given the place you are visiting, ask the admissions guy how many stars the place has, ESPECIALLY if they got a bad write up last year and only got two stars. It’s kind of fun watching him squirm and hearing the fascinating back story.

How You Know You Have Spent Too Long Shopping For Nursing Homes:

  1. When it occurs to you that you’ve used the word “incontinence” more times in the last five hours than you had in the 56 previous years of your life.
  2. When you decide to ask the woman who has just told you that their skilled nursing unit costs $220 a day, if you could get a discount if you went with unskilled nurses instead.